Sometimes you smile to keep from crying

Hand over hand compassion

God’s Word promises that through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.  And because His compassions fail not, our mercies are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness God.  A rousing “Thank You Lord” is appropriate.  This morning I was watching a story on the television of a young man who has endured the death of his mother in his arms at a very young age.  As the interview progressed the young man said, “Sometimes you smile to keep from crying.”  That statement impacted me.  I grabbed the first blank sheet of paper I could find which was an envelope and jotted it down.  God has certainly been faithful to this young man each morning as he woke up.  The young man proceeded to say how much his life has been blessed.  I started to think deeply about what I had just heard.

How often are we asked, “How ya doing?”  How often do we reply, “Doing good” and we move on.  I have replied the same way at times so that I could avoid a long conversation with someone about exactly how I was feeling.  But this post is not about how I’m feeling but rather how the other person feels when they reply, “Doing good.”  God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us discern at times when someone is hurting or struggling so that we can show the compassion of God and offer His mercies to them.  I have to ask myself do I really cultivate that discernment?

I thought of how many times the young man was asked how he was doing over the many years since his mother’s death.  I thought of his emotions and how he really wanted to cry but yet smiled.  Today his life is being used as a testimony of God’s mercies and faithfulness.  He has moved past the event and into his testimony for God’s glory.

We all know of people who have faced or are facing very difficult and emotional events in their lives.  The Holy Spirit can bring us into an understanding of the need for a compassionate heart and the ability to offer grace and mercy.  Sometimes it is accomplished by words but sometimes it’s accomplished by a loving glance into the person’s eyes where no words are needed.  Sometimes just holding their hand or sending them a card communicates our love.

Friend, my prayer is that God would give all of us His Holy Spirit discernment so when we encounter a person who may be looking for a compassionate and understanding heart, we would be ready and obedient to respond as God directs.  It’s important to remember that the person more than likely is not looking for you to solve anything for them.  They are looking for the compassion and mercy of a faithful God.  Remember others smile to keep from crying.  Maybe just maybe when you need God to send you a person in your time of need with His compassion and mercy, He will.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Seek Me.  You will find Me.

Seek Me. You will find Me.

Jeremiah 29_13From the still small voice of God, He is saying, “Seek Me.”  The still small voice that spoke into existence all things.  That still small voice that brought life from death.  That still small voice that the mountains bow down to.  That still small voice that captures your heart and holds it so gently waiting for you to submit to His love.

From that still small voice of God, He is saying, “You will find Me.”  He is not hiding.  He is not hidden.  He is ready to take you by the hand and pick you up and lead you in His ways.  His hand is not hardened by anger.  His hand will not pick you up and drop you.  His hand is strong yet gentle and filled with grace and mercy.  His hand will guide you into His loving care.  Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

He saw the greater need

So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14: 10-14 NKJV)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, though He knew of what would happen to John, in His humanness, He grieved. His friend had died. He wanted to be alone. But then something happened that changed everything. It says He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. In the midst of the times in the land, Jesus’ grief and the sorrow of the death of a dear friend, He saw the greater need. He saw the multitude. He saw that the sheep were before Him. They, too, had great needs. Jesus, God in the flesh, set aside His personal grief, and what He was facing and ministered to those in need.

There are times in our life where we, too, face incredible stress, heart ache, and grief. It happens to all of us. We come to a place where we might think no one else has to deal with what I am facing. I’ve said that myself. But I’ve learned that when I can set aside just a little bit of the struggles I face and look to what others are facing and pray for them, I feel a release. I feel comforted in knowing that God knows what I struggle with and He is on it. And when my prayer for others opens up into an opportunity to talk with them, the release is even greater. I want to be able to see, and hear, and feel as Jesus did. With a heart of compassion that always recognizes the greater need.

Heavenly Lord, You poured out Your love to those in need because You desired for them to see their Savior in the flesh. You came to seek and to save that which was lost. As You walked this earth You always ministered with a heart filled with compassion. Help me Lord to walk with Your heart, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears. To set aside our own needs to minister to those in need. May those we minister to see Your light in us. Help us Lord we pray. In Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Sheltering in the midst of the storm

Psalm 91:1-2 1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.””

I have come to like watching the Weather Channel. Mostly because I’m interested in the local weather. Or I like to know what weather lay ahead if I’m traveling. But sometimes I see and hear about severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. I watch live feeds from the areas and see the devastation. I sometimes get to watch the rescue efforts and the people who come to provide relief for those who have lost everything.

I must confess that I take for granted where I live and what we have. We’ve had storms, sometimes even heavy storms, but I have never lost everything as a result of the weather.

The Word of God tells us that those who abide (to remain, continue, stay) in the secret place (the presence, intimate residence) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow (covering, overwhelming protection) of the Almighty. It is where our protection from the storms of life exists. In the loving strength of God who has overcome everything and given everything so that you may find peace and rest.

It reminds me of the old Dottie Rambo song, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. The chorus says,

So let the storm clouds rage high,

The dark clouds rise, They don’t bother me;

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

He walks with me, And naught of earth shall harm me,

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Those who face natural disasters often place their trust in the efforts of others to support them, provide for them, and get them back on their feet. We are instructed in the Word of God to place our trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV) What this verse is saying is that the Lord will support us, provide for us, and get us back on the path He has ordered for us. But how often do we forget? Those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord as Savior, have no other way. They must trust their own experience, skills, and efforts of others. That is their only way. But as Christians, we’re told the Jesus is the only way. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friend, my point is this. The world is a difficult place; a lonely place. We face things that are sometimes overwhelming just like facing disaster. How do we respond to what the world throws at us? Our response should be to run to the place where God can shelter us. The most secret place of the Most High. We should run into the arms of God in an intimate relationship with Him. So that when the world is at its darkest, when the clouds of evil rise, they won’t bother us. We are sheltered by Almighty God Himself, where He takes our hand and walks with us. Where He leads us to His everlasting love and protection.

Do you know how to begin an intimate relationship with God? Has anyone ever told you? Well, it’s pretty simple. Humble your heart and pray. That’s where it begins. With a humble heart, begin to talk to the Lord and invite Him to remove your fears, wipe your tears, and rescue you from the evil and pain of this world. Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s not complicated. When you lift up a prayer to God, He promises to hear you. It may be hard at first, but once you humble yourself and begin to talk to Him from the deepest parts of your heart, you will experience such peace. And in that peace, resides the everlasting love and promise of life eternal. I can help you with this. Will you pray these words with me? It’s not the words that brings eternal life. It’s a humble and believing heart that releases God grace and mercy. Grace and mercy that none of us deserve, but is available to all of us. Please pray.

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to hear my prayer. Lord, I cannot stand alone any longer is the world. I face so many things that overwhelm me at times. I’m in need of Your protection and sheltering. But most, I’m in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord.  Lord, I believe that You suffered and died for the sins of mankind including mine. I believe that You died so that I could have eternal life. I believe that You are the only Way. Lord, after Your terrible death on the cross, You rose from the dead to defeat sin, my sin, once for all. Lord, come into my life and my heart and be my Savior. I submit myself to You and receive Your mercy and grace. Thank You Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. I love You Lord and pray in Your name, Jesus. AMEN

 Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

Have you ever been just plain weak and tired and feel you just can’t go another inch without just falling over? I have felt that way. Recently and in the past. I’m getting older and can’t do what I used to be able to do and certainly I don’t recover physically as quickly as I had in the past. Lack of physical strength may have a number of causes. Physical weakness comes from a body that isn’t as strong as it once was or maybe due to illness, weakness occurs. But there is also spiritual weakness; when we feel weary in the work of the Lord.

Spiritual weakness may lead us to be slack in our time with God. Spiritual weakness may be the result of persecution, spiritual warfare, or even being faced with opposition. My question is this, “when we are weak, where do we turn?” I pray we turn to God. The nature of God, Himself, is compassion and care. God is merciful. God has an understanding of human weakness and what is necessary to restore those in need. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and- great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV)

Friend, today I needed to call upon the name of the Lord and seek His care, His restoration power, His comfort, and His strength. Whether it be physical or spiritual weakness, God is the source of all that we need. As believers we should expect to suffer as part of our calling. To believe is not to evade suffering; it is to face it with new confidence and hope. Rightly approached, suffering develops the character of believers, equips them for more effective service, draws believers closer to Jesus Christ and prepares them for eternal life. The Apostle Paul said it best. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12”9 NKJV)

O God, thank You for Your mercy in our times of need. Sometimes, God, we are weak either physically or spiritually. Thank You that we can call upon Your name for Your tender mercies. You care for us, You restore us, You comfort us, You strengthen us. Help us God to look toward You when we are weak so that You God can touch us and bring us back. We give You the glory. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

James 3:17-18 NKJV – Seeking the wisdom of God

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I can be scatter-brained every now and then. It’s true. My mind gets going in so many directions that it is hard to find my way out of a paper bag. I am not a person who operates very well by multi-tasking. I am the kind of person that has to keep my thoughts on a single point of interest. I find security in knowing if I keep my mind on the task at hand, I won’t get lost. When I try to do too much, I get frustrated and confused and don’t succeed very well. I wish I could be more multi-task oriented, but that is not how God created me.

So this brings me to our Scripture. The wisdom that God gives is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and is without partiality and hypocrisy. That is what I desire. Because let me tell you, when I try to do things in my own wisdom, there isn’t much wisdom of what this Scripture promises. Just the opposite. And in all of this confusion, what do you suppose are the attitudes displayed for the world to see? Yeah. Not good.

Scripture illustrates a range of attitudes towards other people, some of which are commended, while others are condemned. Commended attitudes include love, forgiveness, helpfulness, kindness, hospitality, generosity, humility, patience, submission, gentleness, and unselfishness. Condemned attitudes include pride, jealousy, judgment, anger, hatred, and partiality. So you can see why pursuing the wisdom of God in all things is so important. I’ve been thinking a lot about living out my faith as Jesus did. What I mean to say is demonstrating “Christ Alive” in everything I do so that others may see the difference that is in me. Christ in me defines or should I say should dictate how I react, what choices I make, and how my attitude is displayed. It “should”. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I let things get to me? Yes. Do I let my guard down? Yes.

But Scripture says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8 NKJV) AND “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) Friend, I desire to live and demonstrate a peaceable life and manner, filled with the wisdom of God as I ask for it, always pursuing gentleness and a willingness to yield or submit to others. That is what we all should desire, but sometimes we will fail. How do we get back up when we realize the attitude we just displayed was not our best? We seek forgiveness; both from the affected people and from God. How do we seek the forgiveness of others and of God? First and foremost, humble submission. When we humble ourselves to those we may have offended or at least may have seen something in us that does not glorify God, we demonstrate an attitude that pleases and is commended by God. Secondly, spend some time in prayer seeking God to forgive your actions and to fill you with His wisdom in all things.

I spoke of being scatter-brained in the beginning. Maybe it’s not scatter-brained, but rather we sometimes get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world and we lose track of our identity. Let’s focus on living out the wisdom of God and demonstrate that Jesus is alive in us. Therein lies our true identity.

Dear God, we call upon Your Name and seek Your wisdom. Thank You God that you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy when we fail and try to live out our life in our own wisdom. Help us Lord to live out our life in Christ Jesus. Guide and direct us to demonstrate Jesus is Alive in everything we do. For Your glory and honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me believe God!